The ACCC has granted interim authorisation to allow the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA), the peak national body for mortgage and finance brokers, to continue to administer disciplinary rules enforcing its Code of Practice.
The interim authorisation will give the MFAA time to review its Code of Practice in line with recommendations of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (Financial Services Royal Commission), several of which relate to the mortgage broking sector.
Authorisation by the ACCC removes any risk that the MFAA’s disciplinary rules, which allow the body to expel members for misconduct, may breach competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act.
The MFAA has applied for reauthorisation of its rules, and sought interim authorisation as part of that process. Its current authorisation ends in June 2019.
“The MFAA has requested more time to consider and make changes to its governance regime following the Financial Services Royal Commission,” ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherston said.
“Once the MFAA has made these changes, a process that we understand will take three to six months, we will assess the new disciplinary rules and decide whether to authorise them.”
Further information is available at the ACCC authorisations public register.
The MFAA is the peak national body for mortgage and finance brokers, mortgage managers and aggregators. It has more than 13,700 members. The ACCC granted five-year authorisations for the MFAA’s disciplinary rules in 2004, 2009, and 2014.
The MFAA applied for re-authorisation of its disciplinary rules in December 2018, proposing minor changes.
The Financial Services Royal Commission submitted its Final Report on 2 February 2019, which included several recommendations impacting the mortgage broking sector.
The MFAA then amended its application for re-authorisation on 31 March 2019 to also seek interim authorisation of the existing disciplinary rules, to allow it time to review its Code.
Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the likely public benefit resulting from the conduct outweighs any likely public detriment.
The ACCC may review its decision on interim authorisation at any time. The ACCC’s decision in relation to interim authorisation should not be taken as an indication of whether or not final authorisation will be granted by the ACCC.